12:00 AM, March 13, 2009
Columbia National Guard today receives the initial three UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters from EADS North America. UH-72A Lakota is new-generation aircraft for a range of aviation support missions in the nation's capital area. These helicopters were accepted during a ceremony at the Washington, D.C. Armory, and are the first of 16 Lakotas to be operated in the region. The D.C. National Guard will receive a total of eight UH-72As, with a similar number assigned to the Military District of Washington. All 16 will be based at Fort Belvoir in Virginia, and are capable of operating from this Army facility as well as from the Washington, D.C. Armory. "We're extremely proud of every UH-72A Lakota we deliver to the U.S. Army, but it will be especially rewarding to see our aircraft supporting the men and women who protect our nation's capital," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America's chairman and CEO. "The Lakota is the most capable light utility helicopter in the world today -- built here in the United States, and being delivered on time, on budget and on performance." The D.C. National Guard Lakotas are multi-mission aircraft with provisions for medical evacuation, providing the capability to carry NATO-standard litters. "These new aircraft will greatly enhance our ability to fulfill our mission in the nation's capital," said Army Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard. "Aviation assets like the UH-72A provide increased capability and flexibility across a wide variety of mission requirements as we support and protect both the residents and government functions in the District." The Army expects to acquire a total of 345 Lakotas through 2016 for use on missions that vary from homeland security and medical evacuation to drug interdiction, support and logistics operations. Additionally, five Light Utility Helicopters have been ordered by the U.S. Navy for pilot training at the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Md.